Vitesse VITL030 1960 Messerschmitt KR200 Roadster - White/Red (1:43 Scale)
"One thing is certain: There is great development ahead for the automobile."
- The American Magazine, Things I've Been Thinking About by Henry Ford, February 1936
The Messerschmitt KR200, or Kabinenroller (Cabin Scooter), was a three-wheeled bubble car designed by the aircraft engineer Fritz Fend and produced in the factory of the German aircraft manufacturer Messerschmitt in the 1950s and early 1960s. Messerschmitt, temporarily not allowed to manufacture aircraft, had turned its sights toward the production of vehicles, much like its cousin company BMW. The KR200 replaced the KR175 and was an almost total redesign whilst retaining the original concept.
The most noticeable thing about the KR200 "limousine" model is its distinctive bubble canopy. These were usually transparent acrylic ("Plexiglas" or "Perspex"), though reproductions are car-safe polymethyl methacrylate. Three-wheeled, low to the ground, and sporting two perfectly round headlights, these cars were unusual, even by the standards of microcars. The KR200 ran on a one cylinder two-stroke air-cooled motorscooter engine, which was in front of the rear wheel, just behind the passenger's seat. It had very simple controls, including a steering bar reminiscent of that of an aircraft. A convertible or "Cabriolet" model was also made which had a roll-down hood directly replacing the Perspex dome. In addition, a "Roadster" KR 201 was made in small numbers having a small flyscreen in place of the windscreen with completely removable plastic side screens and a full convertible hood. The "Sport" model was made in very small numbers. This had a fixed (i.e. not opening) top with only a tonneau cover.
The KR200 was small, fuel efficient, and inexpensive. In a country in the throes of the after-effects of war but with an extensive system of motorways, it was well-matched to the demands of the time.
There are car clubs in Europe, the US, and elsewhere that still value these cars, usually for their quirky character rather than their actual monetary value. Nonetheless, some collectors will pay over 10,000 euros for a well-maintained "Schmitt." There is even a reproduction Schmitt kit available on the market, for the thrifty or cash-strapped collector.
Having the second seat behind, rather than beside the driver and only a single rear wheel not only reduces frontal area but allows the body to taper like an aircraft fuselage, within a practical length. Ten horsepower (7 kW) propelled it at around 65 mph (105 km/h). The consumption of the car was 87 mpg (3.2 litres per 100 km).
The KR200 was unusual in respect of the fact that an unusual reverse was fitted. The engine had two sets of contact breaker points and, to reverse, the engine was stopped and than restarted, going backwards. This means that, in effect, one had FOUR reverse gears, although anyone driving backwards in fourth gear with the vehicle's direct steering, had to have a death wish. I only ever managed third gear reverse and it was terrifying.
Kabinenroller means "cabin scooter". There were also an earlier Fend Flitzer and KR175 and a later, and faster, four wheeled TG500.
Production of the KR200 ceased in 1964 as sales had been dropping for a few years. The demand for basic economy transport in Germany had diminished as the German economy boomed. A similar situation developed in other parts of Europe such as in the Company's biggest export destination the UK where sales were particularly affected by the increasing popularity of the Mini.
Pictured here is a gorgeous 1:43 scale diecast replica of a 1960 Messerschmitt KR200 Roadster finished in white and red, not yellow as shown. Sold Out!
Length: 2.75 inches